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White Chocolate and Cranberry Cupcakes

The tartness of cranberries works wonderfully with the sweetness of white chocolate. These pretty cupcakes make a lovely festive alternative to traditional Christmas cake.
White Chocolate and Cranberry Cupcakes
Makes 12-16 Cupcakes
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Cooking time: 1.5-2 hours
For the Sponge
70g (2 ½ Oz) Unsalted Butter, Softened
210g (7 ½ Oz) Plain Flour
250g (9 Oz) Caster Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
½ Tsp Salt
210ml (7 ½ Fl Oz) Whole Milk
2 Large Eggs
60g (2oz) Dried Cranberries
1 Tsp Grated Orange Zest
For the Frosting
60g (2oz) White Chocolate, Chopped
500g (1Ib 2oz) Icing Sugar, Sifted
160g (5 ½ Oz) Unsalted Butter, Softened
50ml (1 ¾ Fl Oz) Whole Milk
For the Decoration
20g (¾ Oz) Dried Cranberries
1 Tsp Grated Orange Zest
Equipment
One or Two 12-Hole Deep Muffin Tins
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F), Gas mark 3, and line the muffin tins with paper muffin cases to make the number you require.
2. First make the sponge. In a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment or using a hand-held electric whisk, mix the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together until they form a crumb-like consistency.
3. In a jug, mix together the milk and eggs by hand.
4. With the mixer or whisk on a slow speed, gradually pour half of the liquid into the crumb mixture and mix thoroughly until combined. Turn up the speed to medium and beat until the batter is smooth and thick, with no lumps. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Once any lumps have gone, turn the speed back down and gradually pour in the remaining liquid, continuing to mix until the batter is smooth and combined.
5. Add the cranberries and orange zest, and mix through the batter, making sure they are evenly distributed. Spoon the batter into the prepared paper cases, filling them two-thirds full, Using a 50ml (1 ¾ fl oz) ice-cream scoop can make this process easier and will result in even cupcakes.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly touched. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
7. To make the frosting, melt the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
8. Using the freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment or the hand-held electric whisk, gradually mix the icing sugar and butter together on a low speed until combined and there are no large lumps of butter. Gradually pour in the milk while mixing on a slow speed. When all the liquid is incorporated, turn the mixer up to a high speed and beat the frosting until light and fluffy. Add the melted white chocolate to the frosting, mix well until the frosting is even and smooth.
9. Spoon generous amounts of the frosting onto each cupcake, then gently smooth over with a palette knife, making a swirl at the top if you wish. Top each cupcake with a couple of dried cranberries and a sprinkling of orange zest.
Credit: ‘Home Sweet Home’ by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers (Collins, £20)